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Definitions: Prochiral


A molecule is prochiral if the addition of a new group or an exchange of one group on the molecule would create a new stereocenter and, therefore, a chiral molecule. A prochiral atom must be bonded to three different groups before any change is made.

For example, consider the following molecules.




The molecule on the left is prochiral because a new stereocenter can be made by replacing one group on the carbon marked with an asterisk (*) with a new one. The molecule on the right is prochiral because a new stereocenter can be made by adding a new group to the carbon marked with an asterisk.

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